I have been a nail tech for a little over two years and I still have trouble blending the tips so that they don’t show through the acrylic at all. I believe I am fitting the size properly. I normally use a tip with as small a well as I can find. I apply glue, position the tip at a 45-degree angle to start, and rock the tip on. I use a fine grit file to blend, such as 400 or so. It seems the coarser files rag up the tips. Try as I might, I seem to still see a line where the tip joins the natural nail. I’ve wondered if I just stop filing too soon or do I need a different way of doing this? (I don’t use a drill.) I certainly don’t want to damage the client’s natural nail. Thank you so much for any advice.

Janeen Jesse: It sounds like you are choosing the right tips and applying them correctly, so with a couple of small adjustments, you should be able to get the results you’re looking for. First, try etching the top surface of the well with a 100-grit file before application. Then when the tip is on the nail, brush a bit of tip blender or acetone over the etched area. After about 20 seconds, the plastic will become much softer and easier to blend. It’s good that you are taking such caution not to damage the natural nail, but don’t be afraid to use a 100- or 180-grit file to roll the softened plastic off the well area of the tip. Your goal is to make this portion of the tip paper-thin. Then graduate to a 240-grit to complete the blending with the natural nail. When the well has been thinned as much as possible, it should leave no noticeable line.

Are odorless acrylics any safer in terms of your health than other acrylic systems?

Doug Schoon: Odor is in no way a measure of safety. Fragrances in beauty products smell wonderful, but they cause more allergic reactions than any other type of cosmetic ingredient. Conversely, many foul-smelling substances are very safe to breathe – or even eat (Limburger cheese, for example). All acrylic liquids are safe and will not harm your health – if they are used safely and correctly. This is true for all types of products used to create artificial nails, not just acrylics. The safety of the ingredients used in all liquid/powder systems have been studied intensely for many years. These same ingredients are used in dentistry, as implantable bone cements, and in contact lenses, as well as many household items.

Rather than focusing solely on the odor of a product, learn to use all of your professional products safely and set high standards when it comes to the cleanliness of your station and salon. Also, remember that even if there is no detectable odor, you still need a good-quality ventilation system that removes vapors and dusts from your breathing zone.

My client has something on the bottom of her foot that hurts. It’s hard and round and right in the center of her foot under the ball of the foot. I can’t figure out if it’s a wart or a callus. How can I tell the difference?

Dr. Youner: There are several ways to identify plantar warts (so called because they are growing on the plantar surface – or bottom – of the foot). If you look closely, a wart interrupts the skin lines on the bottom of the foot, and when it is pinched it hurts. If you remove a wart with a scalpel or pumice, it will start to bleed quite quickly and painlessly. Generally a wart starts as a tiny bump and then grows rather quickly. This sudden onset – perhaps after a trip, pool outing, or  new gym membership – usually indicates a wart, whereas calluses or corn occur more gradually.

Another possibility is that your client has a seed corn. This very concise, round lesion looks like a sesame seed and is seen on the bottom of the foot where you have an extra layer of skin called the stratum lucidum that makes the skin thicker. Seed corns don’t really grow and their cause remains unclear. They may be due to the thick skin growing into the foot – a process called invagination. They may also be a type of cyst or even the result of clogged sweat glands.

When you’re sculpting nails on a client with very wide, flat nails, what should the finished nail look like? If the nails were to grow naturally, they would just be a longer version of wide, flat nails. Should I try to give her a high arch across the stress area? Can I make the nails appear thinner?

Jesse: I also have a client with very wide, flat nails – in fact, she wears a size 3 tip on her middle fingers, and there is no tip that will fit her thumbs so I always sculpt them.

Try giving the free edge a more rounded shape to help them appear narrower. After you have sculpted the basic nail, add a small amount of acrylic in a line down the center of the nail from the free edge almost to the cuticle. Blend the added acrylic with the nail to create a higher center and an illusion of a C-curve.

If you are using tips on wide nails, don’t try to fudge your client’s tip size by using tips narrower than her natural nail. You’ll end up with that “stair-step” look as the nails grow out, an invitation for the client to pick. Your best option is to fit her with tips that extend all the way to the corners of her nails. You may need to cut a “V” into the well to allow the tip to spread out on her flat nail, or use tips already made with this feature.


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